Essential points

  • It is unlawful to discriminate against someone because they possess one of the ‘protected characteristics’ named in the Equality Act 2010. This includes disability. 
  • Disability discrimination protection under the Equality Act is more extensive than most other areas of discrimination protection as it includes the positive duty to make reasonable adjustments. 
  • Reasonable adjustments apply in situations where a person with a disability is placed at a substantial disadvantage compared to a person without a disability. A substantial disadvantage is more than a minor or trivial disadvantage.  
  • Under the Equality Act 2010, disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial long-term, adverse effect on the ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. In 2023, an additional clause was added to the definition to include ‘normal’ day-to-day work activities. 
  • Information on disability discrimination in Northern Ireland is available on the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland website. 

CIPD member content

This content is only available for CIPD members

Please note

While every care has been taken in compiling this content, the CIPD cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. These notes are not intended to be a substitute for specific legal advice. 

law advice

Want more employment law advice? Members can phone the CIPD legal helpline or take out a discounted subscription to HR-inform for additional resources.

Callout Image

Related content on discrimination

CIPD Viewpoint
Religion and belief

Explore the CIPD’s point of view on religion and belief, including actions for Government and recommendations for employers

CIPD Viewpoint
Gender equality at work

Explore the CIPD’s point of view on gender equality at work, including recommendations for employers and actions for the UK Government

CIPD Viewpoint
Sexual orientation, gender identity and gender reassignment

Explore the CIPD’s point of view on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender reassignment, including recommendations for employers

CIPD Viewpoint
Race inclusion in the workplace

Explore the CIPD’s point of view on race inclusion in the workplace, including recommendations for employers

Employment law

Access more employment law resources

Employment law
UK employment law changes post-Brexit – the ‘retained EU law bill’ explained

The 'Retained EU law bill', or REUL, changes UK employment law.

For Members
Employment law
Annual leave: UK employment law

The CIPD's dedicated legal resource on holiday entitlement for all types of worker. This page includes guidance on applying the working time directive and how the UK court system sees legal claims against employers on annual leave matters.

For Members
Employment law
Working time: UK employment law

CIPD guidance on the legality of working hours in the UK. Workable hours and breaks are directed by the UK's Working Time Regulations, formally part of the EU Working Time Directive. Here we explore key legislation and how the courts see claims against employers.

For Members